Lana Sutton #10: The question is what have I done

Edward G. Nilges, “State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn as of 23 Oct 2010″, acrylic on canvas 12″ x 16” with some retouch using Gimp

I want to proclaim it finished-
To say, this must be, must be
But then, the vision vanished-
Of what could be, could be.

This painting is,
Scumbly and tattered, torn
The fissures necessary are
To let the light in of the morn.

But as of old the painter fought
For what “technology”
Displays on a computer screen
Creatable, by anybody.

I can do this and you cannot
But that’s because you are not me
The question is what have I done
To give another felicity.

Edward G. Nilges (with apologies, again, to Emily the D)

In the original post of this version, the face, I realized this morning, looked nuts. So I got busy with Gimp to actually increase the intensity of the eyes while toning down the contrast which made her look nutty. This guides me in subsequent work, and this painting needs work.

The Old Bastards would use special mediums and unguents in secret ways at this point to add a whole new layer for before 1848, most patrons expected a rather glossy and finished work. In order to deliver this, the Old Bastards pioneered industrial organization of work but using varieties of the mediaeval guild system in order to avoid having to compete.

It is a paradox that the invention of photography was followed by the abandonment by artists of industrial ateliers for the garret and the individual struggle.

The studios of David and Ingres, with their expropriation of the labour of apprentices who willingly worked for free in order to later exploit their connection with the Master, were hives of activity, with apprentices painting details and models running about in various states of deshabille. Andrzej Wajda’s film Danton shows David’s studio.

My next project (Kanthan emergent, from the Indian Ocean, or, Dad! Why Speedos!?) shall be on a larger canvas for it is deuced hard to work at the 12×16 inch scale and get the expression right. Fortunately, Kanthan’s expression is your basic Dravidian glower and Dark Look as opposed to Lana’s combination of ferocity and humour.

Her blue skirt is still a mess. I may have to work it over with a small brush. It is very amusing to use my Big Bristle Brush, or my most excellent fat sable, a “Van Gogh”. The Big Bristle Brush scumbles vast areas, and the fat sable glazes large areas.

But both make everything too painterly. The pleasure of looking at an Old Bastard like Raphael is searching for the trace of the illusion: one looks closely, for example, at Poussin’s Orfeo in the Poussin Sanctum of the Louvre (through which ignorant blasted tourists troop unseeing, not knowing they are on holy ground)…to see that at this small scale, Poussin had trouble with drawing and the brush…trouble his slimeball friend Vouet didn’t have.

The artist’s bio, his struggle (Kampf? uh oh…) is part of the work, trivially enough, for heigh-ho, the history of das Welt is in the work.

Yeah, uh-oh. Mein Kampf. Needs to be confronted, the fact that the biography of Schickelgruber makes a mock of any He who would be an Artist, Above it All, and meant to be Culled Out:

“I wuz meant to be culled out” – Robert Crumb, “Mister Sensitive Can’t Take It!”

Now, I cannot bring myself to read a biography of Hitler, although I’ve read Shirer et al. on the history of the Third Reich. But apart from one comment writ by one of his secretaries, I do not find any evidence that Hitler sketched during staff meetings, used drawings to show his generals what to do, or made water-colours or pastels of the Soviet troops across the street from his Bunker.

The comment was an echo of the 19th century bourgeois dream of escape (which was financed by the gold standard): “I should have been an unknown painter, tramping about Italy”.

Lana Sutton is a musician, dancer, activist, gardener, environmentalist and Holy Terror in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This painting is based on the photography of Native Son.

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